Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Buddhism, David Hume and the Delusion of the Self
In this modern era of instant global communications, it's easy to forget just how difficult the transmission of ideas was in earlier times. Indeed, the present global free marketplace of ideas has only become universal since the widespread adoption of the internet, so nowadays totalitarian regimes and repressive ideologies can no longer keep people in the dark.
Alison Gopnik gives a fascinating account of her investigations of how Tibetan Buddhist ideas about 'the self' reached and influenced the eighteenth century Scottish philosopher David Hume, despite the obstacles of geography, and censorship by the Vatican's thought-police.
It's easy to see why the Vatican tried to suppress Buddhist philosophy: the process view of the mind seems, at first sight, to totally contradict Catholic dogma on the immortal soul. This willful ignorance of Buddhism among Catholic philosophers has continued into modern times, with some of the more traditional ones making fools of themselves among a modern and better informed audience.
Read Alison Gopnik's article here